The Members of bHLH Transcription Factor Superfamily Are Required for Female Reproduction in the Red Flour Beetle, Tribolium castaneum


Proteins containing the basic Helix-Loop-Helix (bHLH) domain function as transcription factors and play important roles during the development of various metazoans including insects, nematodes and vertebrates. Insect genomes contain more than 50 bHLH transcription factors, but the function of only a few of these proteins in regulation of female reproduction is known. Using RNA interference, we have tested knock-down in the expression of genes coding for bHLH transcription factors in newly emerged adult females to determine their function in regulation of female reproduction in the red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum. Knock-down in the expression of genes coding for four bHLH transcription factors (TcSRC, TcSim1, TcAsh and TcDaughterless) caused mortality in the female beetles. In addition, knocking-down the expression of 16 bHLH genes affected oogenesis and knock-down in the expression of 13 genes affected embryogenesis. Two genes TcSide1 and TcSpineless are required for both oogenesis and embryogenesis. Thus, the data reported here showed that 31 bHLH transcription factors are required for female survival, reproduction and embryogenesis.

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Published in Journal of Insect Physiology, v. 56, issue 10, p. 1481–1489.

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